When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will. Continue reading “A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted …”
But there is this too. Respite. Rest. Letting the desert be the desert, without feeling compelled to bulldoze our way through it.
I think of a long stretch when I found myself in a soul struggle that had caught me entirely by surprise. Consumed by the wrestling and working and searching, I felt exhausted. After a time, my spiritual director, Maru, gave me this phrase: holy absence.
There are times, she said, sometimes seasons, for removing ourselves from the struggle. Time for sabbath. Time for rest. Continue reading “Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …”
To forgive our brother is to forgive
We abandon our revenge;
Our lives have seen suffering enough.
We are tired and worn out with
If we take revenge, it will be the cause;
The effect will follow me into my next life.
Look into the mirror; see the compassion
in your heart.
Avoid all resentment and hatred for Mankind.
— Le Ly Hayslip from A Grateful Heart
“Time heals,” people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression “time heals” means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. “Time heals” implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. Continue reading “Desert Day 32: To Forgive Others Is To Forgive Ourselves …”
Whether you think about the mind from the perspective of Western psychology or Eastern spirituality or common sense, it’s clear that the mind is wired to find order. Habits make us feel safe. Judgments of those who are different than us make us feel protected. The stories we tell ourselves, really, are part of the armor we build to keep this order intact. A traumatic thing, be it big or small, happens to us, and then might come with us for the rest of our lives. We see our story as something that keeps us safe. But it also limits us. And we have many, many stories. These stories impact the ways we understand and experience love. Continue reading “Desert Day 04: The Conscious Effort Real Love Requires …”
The flute of the Infinite is played without ceasing, and its sound is love:
When love renounces all limits, it reaches truth.
How widely the fragrance spreads! It has no end, nothing stands in its way.
The form of this melody is bright like a million suns …
― KABIR from Songs of Kabir Translated by Rabindranath Tagore
Biblically, tenderness is what follows when someone reveals to you your own inner beauty, when you discover your belovedness, when you experience that you are deeply and sincerely liked by someone. If you communicate to me that you really like me, not just love me as a brother in Christ, that you take delight in me (and would, even if I’d never written a single sentence), then you open up to me the possibility of liking myself. The look of amiable regard in your eyes banishes my fears, and my defense mechanisms (such as insulation, name-dropping, and giving the impression that I’ve got it all together) disappear into the nothingness of my non-attention to them. Your warmth withers my self-disdain and allows the possibility of self-esteem. I drop my mask of pretentious piety, stop impersonating Brother Teresa, quit disguising my sanctimonious voice, start to smile at my own frailty, and dare to become more open, sincere, vulnerable, and affectionate with you than I would ever dream of being if I thought you didn’t like me. In short, what happens is I grow tender. Continue reading “Advent Day 12: The Gift of Love …”
The kind of fast drawing me this season isn’t leaving behind of treats like chocolate or other pleasures. This season I am being invited to fast from things like “ego-grasping” and noticing when I so desperately want to be in control, and then yielding myself to a greater wisdom than my own.
I am called to fast from being strong and always trying to hold it all together, and instead embrace the profound grace that comes through my vulnerability and tenderness, to allow a great softening this season.
I am called to fast from anxiety and the endless torrent of thoughts which rise up in my mind to paralyze me with fear of the future, and enter into the radical trust in the abundance at the heart of things, rather than scarcity. Continue reading “A Different Kind of Fast …”